How Did Christianity Spread?

For thousands of years, Christianity has spread all across the world from its humble beginnings in the Levant through word of mouth, art and literature, political and social pressure, missionary work and imperial military force. The pervasive influence of Christianity in the Western culture helped ensure its dissemination to the world along with European might.

During its first few centuries, Christianity faced continual persecution under the rule of Roman emperors. During this era, Christianity spread through subversive ministries and the written theological works of early Church Fathers. The history of Christianity was changed forever by two events of the 4th century. The first, in A.D. 313, was the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine I. Constantine subsequently adopted some of its facets into his military and social policies and afforded Church leaders some political and self-governmental authority. The second, in 380, was the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the empire. Christianity became an imperialistic religion borne by armies and would remain so for more than a thousand years following Rome’s collapse.

During the Middle Ages, the Church hoarded political and economic power throughout Europe, converting the leaders of various countries and peoples while routinely and violently persecuting non-believers. Simultaneously, Christianity was spread through academics, as monasteries and cathedral schools became renowned centers of learning in Western Europe and British Isles. Many of these eventually developed into the universities teaching — only to the faithful — a wide range of knowledge preserved from Roman times. During the Renaissance, innovations in sea travel allowed to the global proliferation of Christianity to begin in earnest, as explorers from Christian nations discovered and converted indigenous cultures around the world using force, wealth, missionary work, and copies of the Bible.